Watching Glee Until It Gets Bad S1E4: Preggers

by thethreepennyguignol

Four episodes in and Glee is really getting into it now.

Preggers is a great episode of the show, really firing on all cylinders as well as finally featuring the superb Chris Colfer as Kurt in a major role for the first time, and I just want to get right into the good stuff. Shall we?

I really thought I loved the iconic opening Single Ladies performance, but looking at it now, I think I was just a closeted teen seeing Heather Morris in a leotard. Even though it’s a pretty small part of the episode, Kurt’s dance-tryout for the football is probably my favourite little musical number this week – it’s silly, totally committed from the wonderful Chris Colfer, and it’s a concise way to move the plot forward that also ends with Kurt doing a Lady Diana wave to his new teammates on the football team. The reprise, with the whole team doing it on the field later, is another one of those slightly scrappy performances that really endears me to the earlier part of the show – watching Harry Shum Junior pretend not to be an incredibly accomplished dancer is pretty great, but the cutaway to Patrick Gallagher nervously keeping up with the hand movements on the sideline tips it over the edge for me.

I totally understand why Chris Colfer had such an instant star-making impact on TV during his early run as Kurt – I still remember watching this as a pretending-to-be-straight girl and doing exactly this every time he did anything on screen. At the time this first season was on TV, a main male character as feminine, central, and explicitly queer as Kurt was a genuine revelation, and I really think Chris Colfer (who was only eighteen when he got cast in this, for God’s sake. Also, while we’re in these brackets anyway, watch his hysterical episode of Bitter Party of Five with fellow Glee alum Romy Rosemont) imbues him with a sincerity that stops him becoming the butt of the problematic joke. It really helps, too, that Mike O’Malley plays his father Burt – O’Malley has an amazing warmth to him that makes some of their relationship-centric storylines really shine, and both actors seemed to realize at the time just how important it would be to show an old-fashioned parent still accepting their LGBTQ child.

The scene where Burt turns up at Kurt’s first football match and Kurt is beaming up from the field, bouncing up and down and yelling “Dad! I told you!” is genuinely so sweet, and it’s the start of one of my favourite enduring on-screen partnerships in the show (later, as he watches Kurt step up to take the last kick of the match, Burt mutters “ugh, so little” to himself in this almost unbearably paternal way that may have made me tear up a little). Glee has never been the subtlest thing in the world when it comes to emotional storylines like this, but it feels genuinely weighty. Kurt’s coming-out scene isn’t devoid of stereotype, but I do enjoy that the show doesn’t instantly set up this plot of a gay teen being rejected and facing a lack of acceptance at home. For the first LGBTQ-centric episode of the show to focus on a relatively optimistic plot like this felt like a real shift from the incredibly punishing Bury Your Gays and similair we’d been dealing with for years at this point, even if it would delve more into homophobia later in the season. Not to mention the fact that Mike O’Malley comes in with his very first line of dialogue as the funniest part of Preggers as an explanation to why he’s home early: “Deadliest Catch is on”.

Of course, the main focus of this episode is right there in the title – Quinn finds out she’s pregnant, and she and Finn (who isn’t really the father, but, due to a Hot Tub Sperm Machine situation, believes he is) deal with the fallout. This is probably the most interesting the drama has felt all season, even if this is a bit of a hackneyed plotline, because it starts to show the other side to the “cool” Glee club members, and how much their own struggles mirror that of the rest of their uncool brethren. Dianna Agron, who’s been so utterly commanding and in control so far, breaks down crying as she admits she really thought she might get out of Lima, something she deems impossible now she’s pregnant. It’s a reminder that pretty much all of these kids want the same thing – to escape their dreary hometown – but Quinn has actually been feeling up until now she might achieve it. Seeing it pulled away from her is really powerful, and I think the follow-up scene between Cory Monteith and Matthew Morrison is the first time in the show that they haven’t felt like slightly distant brothers-in-law. I also do really appreciate the mention of Planned Parenthood and the possibility of abortion here, and how unjudgementally it’s brought up by the adult characters – even if Quinn finds it unthinkable, it’s not written off as some unmentionable option in this situation.

Preggers is probably the best episode so far this season, and I haven’t even touched on the introduction of the fucking iconic “Sue Cs It” segment of Ohio’s local news – Jane Lynch calmly advocating to bring back caning of children in the first ten minutes of this episode really does just tick off the comedy right then and there. It’s got the melancholy that I think underpins the best version of this show, and the world is starting to feel fuller and fuller as we get more of the supporting characters (hey, check out this episode for a lesser-spotted Tina Getting A Whole Song To Herself moment). I’m genuinely in the groove of the show at this point, and it’s hard to imagine just how bad it’s going to get – but yet, I soldier on, as the noble Glee recapper I am and have always been. See you next week!

If you’d like to support my blog and get access to exclusive content, please consider supporting me on Patreon, or if you’re interested in my fiction work, check out my books!

Donate to RAINN

(header image via Gyfcat)